Consumers could be ingesting fewer chemicals in their food and making smarter decisions about their cookware purchases under legislation sent to the Governor today. AB 1200 by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) bans the use of “forever chemicals,” known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in food packaging. The bill also requires the makers of cookware to disclose the use of PFAS and other hazardous chemicals in their products.
“When it comes to our food, we must ensure safety. Under federal regulations, companies are allowed to self-certify that a chemical they’ve added to food packaging is safe. That’s not good enough for me. Manufacturers should be mandated to use safer alternatives,” said Ting. “In addition, disclosure of PFAS used in cookware helps families decide for themselves what’s right for them.”
PFAS is a class of roughly 9,000 man-made chemicals called commonly added to food wrappers and containers to prevent grease and other liquids from leaking through. They’re also used in cookware to make them nonstick. We’re essentially eating these harmful substances because they’ve come into contact with our food. PFAS has been linked to health problems, including cancer, hormone disruption, thyroid disease and vaccine interference.
“On behalf of all of the cosponsors of this groundbreaking bill, we thank Assemblymember Ting for his outstanding leadership throughout the legislative process,” said Nancy Buermeyer, senior policy strategist for Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP). “The passage of AB 1200 is an important step toward protecting Californians and our environment from toxic ‘forever’ PFAS in food packaging and, for the first time ever, providing information consumers need to choose safer cookware. We urge Governor Newsom to quickly sign this bill into law.” AB 1200 is cosponsored by Center for Environmental Health, Clean Water Action, Environmental Working Group, Natural Resources Defense Council and BCPP.
The term “forever chemicals” refers to their resistance to breaking down, making them persistent in the environment and human body. McDonalds, Taco Bell, Chipotle, Panera Bread, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are already phasing out PFAS-laced wrappers, boxes and the like, or have pledged to do so. In addition, when those containers are composted, PFAS enters the food chain when the compost is applied to agricultural soil used to grow crops. They also end up in drinking water and in our air. New York, Washington and Maine have enacted a similar law prohibiting the use of PFAS in food packaging.
The Governor has until October 10th to act on all bills approved in the final weeks of session.